Legal ambiguity puts widow’s life in despair

- Pratichya Dulal, Kathmandu
Fallen soldiers’ benefitsPrabha’s husband, Nawaraj, an NA soldier, died of wounds suffered in an attack of Maoist rebels. She didn’t receive compensation as Nawaraj died four years later

Jan 4, 2016-Eight years after the death of her husband, Prabha Dhakal is still trying to get the government-announced relief package of Rs 1 million, which according to her could go a long way in easing her financial burden. 

Dhakal’s husband, Nawaraj Dhakal, was a Nepal Army personnel who was severely injured in Beni attack of the then Maoist rebels in March 2004. He died four years later as he was being treated for the injuries he had suffered in Beni.

 The treatment document does not specify Dhakal as a security personnel who died on the battlefield. This has barred his family members from receiving the relief package. 

“My husband was taken to the hospital from the battlefield and he never returned home. He spent four years undergoing eight surgeries to pull out eight bullets in his right thigh and yet he has not been classified under the soldiers who lost his life during conflict,” said 30-year-old Prabha, who hails from Tanahun.

According to the government policy, families of those servicemen killed in the line of duty are entitled to receive Rs 1 million compensation. However, the families of many officers who were wounded in action and died some times later have not received the compensation. 

Since Prabha’s husband was not yet eligible for pension at the time of his death, so all she received was the provident fund and medical allowance. Prabha said that even her 14-year-old daughter did not get the scholarship for the children of fallen security personnel, because her husband did not die on the battlefield. 

Chief of Army Staff Rajendra Chhetri said the families of fallen soldiers have not been discriminated on purpose. 

“The problem rose due to unclear legal provisions. We are doing our best to help the families of fallen army personnel. For instance, we provide soft loans to their family members. We are have also started to gather information on the status of family members of fallen soldiers, so that we could offer them assistance,” said Chhetri. 

Stakeholders say security forces need to change their policies to incorporate in the compensation and benefit provisions the families of  police and Army personnel who died of injuries they suffered during the war.

“First of all legal provisions must be changed so that spouses and family members of the deceased as a result of the battle wounds also receive due compensation. Next, we need to break away from the welfare approach and bring another set of policy to enhance the skills of these single women and provide them jobs,” said Lily Thapa, executive director of Women for Human Rights Single Women Rights. 

Published: 04-01-2016 08:56

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